Talkin’ Turkey with Jude Urbanski!

Yes! Jude Urbanski is with us this week! And, yes, she’s a fellow Hoosier, (woo-hoo!) transplanted, but still part of the left sock state,(shamelessly copying Michigan’s nickname moniker here!) and we’re all thankful to have her. If you’re not acquainted with her, take a break from your holiday cooking and pull up a chair. You’re in for a huge treat! (post by Peggy Trotter)

PT:  Hello, Jude! So exciting to have you here on the Diamond Mine! So much to discuss,but let’s start with the basics. Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Judy Urbanski

Judy Urbanski

JU: I’m a wife, a mother,a grandmother, and a sister! I have lived in the Midwest all my life, but have traveled nearly all over the world. I began writing seriously after retirement from nursing. A strong faith guides and directs me! We have several writers in the family.

PT:  I’ve met a lot of writers who begin writing later in life and that is so interesting to me. Perhaps it’s because they’ve seen God pull them through so many obstacles.  You’ve had some major struggles in your life.  What gave you the courage to overcome these obstacles? 

JU:  Early on, I surely hadn’t anticipated what life would bring, but, my story is not unique, it is simply my story. It’s no surprise tragedy is universal and grief is evergreen. Would that everyone turned to God at such times for He certainly is on the journey with us. He gave me the courage then and still ‘gets’ me through. Family and friends all help one through hard times.

Continue reading


Interview and Giveaway with Amryn Cross!!

Love won’t save her. U.S Marshals can’t contain her. Death will not stop her.


         Today on the Diamond Mine, I’ll be interviewing one of our group members, Amory Cannon, whose pen name is Amryn Cross. Her debut novel, Learning To Die debuted this month, and we’re all so excited for her! She’s woven a compelling suspense story with an intense romance between two strong-willed characters. Quite an exciting read!  I highly recommend it! After the interview, leave a comment and you’ll automatically be entered for a free copy of this wonderful story in either e-book or print copy, whichever you prefer.

Now for our interview!

What was the first thing you remember writing?
When I was in elementary school, I wrote lots of little stories about puppy love and girls doing things that only boys do—like joining the football team. The first thing of any length I remember writing was a fan fiction of sorts based on the characters in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
One of my favorite books, too! So, when did you decide to write fiction novels?
I began writing my first novel in November 2011 for National Novel Writing Month. It was an experiment for me, coming up with all original characters and starting to weave my love of writing with my love of forensic science. I learned a lot during that process, and it only solidified my decision to commit to writing.
I’m glad you did! What genre or genres do you write?
My main genre is romantic suspense, which is where my debut novel fits, but I’m also delving into young adult as well. Eventually, I’d like to write a book that’s strictly romance, but that’s a way off for me at this point.
How do your story ideas come to you?
It varies from book to book. Sometimes it’s an idea for a specific scene that just grows into something more. I have been inspired by certain TV shows and books, but my favorite is when I read or hear a certain phrase and it sparks an entire plot. Music is a big one for me for this reason. A line or two of lyrics can carry me a long way. For that reason, I make playlists for each story I write.
I also use music as inspiration. When I write a historical novel, I listen to music that fits the time. 
Do you use outlines, or write the plot as you go?
I sort of fall in between. I like to have a vague outline since it’s important in my genre to know the crime that’s committed and the timeline of when the characters figure out what clues. Major external events tend to be the cornerstone of my outlines, but I don’t plan my characters reactions to those events. I let them develop naturally, and that sometimes leads to additional scenes I hadn’t planned on.
They take on a life of their own, don’t they? So, is this debut novel the first one you wrote?
Actually, no. Learning to Die was originally intended to be a sequel to the first novel I wrote. However, the more I learned about writing, the more I realized that first novel needed a lot of work and maybe would never be published. This story had more potential, and I’d already fallen in love with the characters, so I decided to put my effort into getting Kate’s story published.
How much of yourself is in your characters?
I love this question. In this book, I don’t think there’s much of me in Kate or Graham. Actually, it was a bit difficult to get Kate right in the beginning because I’m not very much like her. But I did connect with her because there are a lot of people I know in her. She’s real and she’s broken, and on the most basic level, I think we’ve all been there. In other books, however, I’ve put a lot of myself into characters. In a novella series I’m working on for next year, the main character is basically me turning off my filter and writing. It’s a lot of fun!
Do you ever hit difficult spots or get derailed in your stories, and if so, how do you get past this?
This does happen to me from time to time, but I’ve found the best way to get past this is to be willing to skip around. I don’t always write chronologically. In fact, for the first novella in the next series I’m working on, I wrote it backwards! I break my story down into scenes, and if one scene isn’t cooperating, I’ll move on to one that I have a clearer picture of. Sometimes I have to go back and change things when I tie all the scenes together, but it does usually break me out of writer’s block or a rut.
What do you like best about writing?
This is tough to narrow down, but I really think it’s figuring out what makes people tick. My stories are very character driven for that reason. I’m not just interested in what someone does, but why they do that. I love complicated characters because we all lead complicated lives. I want to write stories that make people think about their actions and relate to the character.
What effect do you hope your writing has on the reader?
Ultimately, I hope my writing glorifies God. I want to tell a good story, to make a reader laugh or cry, but the purpose is to use the little things in the book to point people to Him. From Learning to Die specifically, I hope readers will realize that God really does work in all things, and that you’re never too far that He can’t love you.
That’s a beautiful message. 
What are you working on now?
I’m in the process of editing the first novella in my East Wind series (which you can find out more about at, which will hopefully release in January next year. It’s about a former military man who’s forced into medical retirement and somehow ends up solving crimes with this crazy but brilliant consulting detective—Alexandria Holst. Each novella follows the two of them through one of their cases. Very much based on several adaptations of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson… especially the modern BBC version.
I’m also finishing up my young adult novel The Broken Crown, which I also hope to release next year. It follows a young princess, Emilia, in a fictional world where Christianity has been outlawed, and even her own mother—the queen—was not safe from execution because of it. Finding the strength to save the Insurgos Christians means a choice between the life Emilia was born for and the one God called her to. Both of which could mean death. I can’t wait to share this book with my readers!
Another one of your books to look forward to! Thanks so much for this interview!
Now for an excerpt from Learning to Die:
“I’m here to protect you.” His eyes changed, softened maybe, and the white haze that usually preceded a flashback edged her vision. No. Not now.

His hand twitched as he made a move for his pocket. Reflex took over as her muscles coiled in anticipation. Her right hand flew forward in a well-practiced uppercut, aiming for the sweet spot under his chin.

Though she had surprise on her side, he was much stronger and anticipated her move. Her fist never made contact. Instead, his hand wrapped tightly around her wrist and twisted her until her back slammed up against the wall with her right hand over her head, the muscles in her shoulder aching in protest. He reached for her left hand and raised it until he held both wrists, in one hand, above her head.

Her chest heaved with adrenaline. Self-preservation coursed through her gut, and if it came to fighting for her life or the lives of her friends, she would not hold it back.

His face was mere inches from hers now, his breath on her cheek. Involuntary shivers tingled her spine. If only she’d grabbed her gun before she stepped into the hallway.

“I said I’m here to protect you… even from yourself.” The words ghosted over her as he lowered his lips to her ear and brushed them against her skin. She imagined if anyone bothered to look at the security cameras right now, they’d appear more like a pair of lovers than two enemies in a stalemate. There didn’t seem to be much of a line between the two at the moment, as confusion and attraction waged a war in the pit of her stomach. He wasn’t as unaffected as he’d like her to think — she could see his pulse thrumming in his neck.

He looked down to his left, and her eyes followed his movement. When he went for his pocket again, she didn’t fight. Instead of a weapon, he raised his hand to present a badge directly in front of her face.

Lying inside a black flip wallet, the badge resembled a gold circle with a star inside it, the words “United States Marshal” around the outside. Opposite the badge, she read the credential card that introduced her attacker as Graham Shepherd, Senior Deputy U.S. Marshal, Inspector. She looked back and forth from the picture on the card to the man in front of her. The eyes left no doubt it was the same man.

Now, here’s a short author bio:
Amryn Cross is a forensic scientist and author of romantic suspense novels. As a lover of college football, Shakespeare, superheroes, and travelling, she is drawn to complex characters who aren’t always what they seem. Her novels are character-driven stories of people who face down some of life’s darkest moments and learn to reconcile that darkness with God’s light. She refers to these as “between the shadow and the soul” moments. Amryn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy. You can connect with Amryn on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Here are the buy links:
Remember to leave a comment and you’ll be entered in the drawing for a copy of the book!

Carlene Havel’s The Scarlet Cord (with Sharon Faucheux)

Welcome to the Mine, everyone. We’re digging for diamonds in Christian fiction. Are you ready to get your hands dirty? I sure am.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Carlene Havel, a fellow Prism author. Join us as we discuss her literary gems.
Hello Carlene, welcome to the Mine. I’m so glad you could be here today. 

For those readers who may not know, what kind of books do you write and can you enlighten us on your ‘process’? You know…how you create one of your jewels?
Thank you, Renee. I’m happy to be here. Let’s see.

I write Biblical fiction with co-author Sharon Faucheux. We start by discussing Bible characters, finally narrowing the choice down to the one whose story we’re most interested in telling. Then she peels off to do research while I begin writing the plot synopsis.
As a solo act, I’ve published two contemporary Christian romances and one historical novella. There are always new stories bubbling through my imagination. For me, ideas come easily. Staying focused on one long enough to complete a book is the challenge.
As busy as life can be, I can believe that. Still, I can see you’ve reached the finished line. Congratulations! And you’ve been published which is awesome as well. I see you’re an author with Prism Book Group, like me and a couple of other miners at the Diamond Mine. What may a reader expect from a Prism book?
Congratulations on winning a Prism contract, and welcome to the fold! Like most writers, I also love to read. Prism Book Group publishes works that are clean, well-written, and carefully edited. I don’t care to read filthy language or casual sex disguised as romance, and you’ll never find those things in Prism books.
You hear that, folks? Clean, and well-written. Thank you, Carlene. I’m honored to be part of a publishing company such as Prism. Speaking of publishing, have you ever been published by anyone besides Prism?
The answer to this question could fill a book. Hmm, maybe someday it will. I got off to a rocky start, but my mother, who also happens to be an author, kept encouraging me. I considered asking Mom (pen name: Barri Bryan) to intercede with Desert Breeze, where she has several books. Ultimately, I decided I would get a publishing contract on my own or not at all. Prism began accepting submissions at a perfect time for me, and I love working with Joan Alley and her crew.
That does sound like quite a story; one I would love to hear (or read) one day. Anyone else agree? I believe you have writing in the blood, so to speak. And did you say Desert Breeze Publishing? What a small world. One of our miners has a contract with them as well.
Back to your latest gem… what are you working on now?
Next up for publication is “The Scarlet Cord”, co-authored by Sharon and me. It’s the story of Rahab. You may recall she was the harlot who survived the fall of Jericho when the walls came tumbling down. Rahab and her family were spared because she had the faith and courage to shelter Israel’s spies. Later, she married Salmon, the Prince of Judah. The Bible doesn’t tell us much more about her life—that’s the part Sharon and I imagined and wrote.
What a story… and in the Bible. I’ve reviewed several Biblical romances for my blog. I enjoyed reading them, although I don’t write them. I’ll definitely have to check this one out. Can we get a glimpse?
     The tall man held up a hand, and his companion fell silent. Rahab was accustomed to men who could not afford her services, but the reactions of these two stung her. One seemed completely indifferent, while the other made her feel unclean. The truth flew into her mind with such force it escaped from her mouth. “You are Hebrews.”
     “Yes, we are,” the tall man said, much to Rahab’s surprise.
     They were such beautiful young men. What a pity it would be for them to be impaled in the public place. “Do you not know the king’s men keep track of foreigners in Jericho, because of all the trouble across the river? If you hurry, you may be able to escape.”
     The shorter man quickly pushed his food away, stood up, and shook out his clothing. The taller one stood and faced Rahab. “Would you hide us?” he asked.
     “I could be executed for helping you. And my whole family along with me.”  Looking into his eyes made her heart beat faster. Yet his face would no longer be handsome after a beating from the soldiers’ rods.
     The tall man spoke gently. “Help us and you will live when we take this city.”
     “Take Jericho? You cannot,” she whispered. “Our walls…”
     “Your walls are nothing to the Lord. We will conquer this city and all others who stand in our way, just as we have overcome the Amorites.” His manner conveyed absolute confidence. “Our lives in exchange for yours. Yes or no?”
I remember the fall of Jericho in the Bible. What an awesome story to tell. How do you decide which characters to pick for your books?
The Bible is filled with fascinating characters! How would it feel to be truly “given” in marriage?To live in an environment where a malevolent king had absolute authority? To be one wife among many? Those thoughts, coupled with a wish to write about a heroine from the Bible, eventually resulted in selecting Princess Michal, King Saul’s youngest daughter, to take the starring role in our first co-authored novel. After Sharon and I sifted through numerous possibilities, Rahab grabbed us next and wouldn’t let go. We were intrigued by the unlikely inclusion of a pagan harlot in the lineage of the Messiah. Once we selected our heroine, we include characters named in the Biblical account and invented the others.
I’m so excited for you (and Sharon). This book sounds absolutely amazing. Do you have any special events planned involving its release?
Prism covers are always smashing—perfectly reflective of each book’s theme—so I’m planning my first ever “cover reveal” event for “The Scarlet Cord”. A year and a half ago, Sharon and I looked at a picture Joan suggested for the cover of “Daughter of the King”. Almost as if we were leafing through a family album, we both said, “This is not a picture of Michal. She’s Rahab!”  
That is so cool. I love it. And I can’t wait for the reveal. I can’t wait to see her shine. After all, I think we have a diamond. Thanks for stopping by the Mine, Carlene. Are you open to taking some questions?
I’m honored to be your first featured author. It has been my pleasure to visit your lovely site.  May your jewelbox be filled with sparklers! I am most definitely open to questions, but I will be away from my computer for a while today, beginning a new Bible study. So if I’m slow to respond, you know why.
I completely understand. Don’t worry, we have plenty of time. After all, we’ll be here all week! (Oh my, I sound like a comedian.)
So if you have a question for Carlene, have at it, folks and don’t forget to enter the giveaway for her latest release and a $25 gift certificate on Amazon! (see details below)



Carlene Havel’s Daughter of the King
(e-copy or signed print version)
winner’s choiceEnter via Rafflecopter!
(drawing on 5/14/14)

About the Giveaway’s Prize:
Princess Michal was the youngest daughter of Saul, the first king of Israel. In an age when fathers arranged marriages, Michal dared to fall in love with a handsome young musician named David, from the little town of Bethlehem. As recounted in the Bible, Michal helped David escape from her insanely jealous father. King Saul punished his daughter with forced marriage to a distant war lord. Princess Michal unexpectedly returns from seven years of exile to find a changed world. Most of her relatives are dead. David has become King of Judea. He has acquired six additional wives, one of whom is a princess from Geshur. Michal longs to have a son to reign over Israel and reestablish the rule of King Saul’s heirs.  But each royal wife has hopes of placing her own son on the throne. Can Princess Michal’s love for King David survive war, madness, infidelity, and betrayal?
About the Author:
I grew up in Texas and married a military officer.  Courtesy of the US Air Force, I’ve also lived in six or seven US states, the Republic of the Philippines, and Turkey. My husband loves to travel, and we’ve had lots of fun satisfying his wanderlust. Although I prefer peaceful mountain forests, he enjoys big cities, exotic locales, and archaeological excavations. Glenn and I still laugh about our adventure in a Parisian coin operated laundry, and I’m pretty sure a couple of French housewives do, too. 
My home is now in Texas, in the midst of a big, extended family. I had no interest in writing until 2005, when I became a believer in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. Along with everything else that changed, I developed a passion for writing. I love Bible study, normally devoting most of one day each week delving into the scriptures with a small focus group. I also enjoy sewing, knitting, crochet and embroidery.
Amazon, Daughter of the King:
Amazon, all my work:

Welcome to the Mine of Christian Fiction

Welcome! We are the Rough Diamond Writers.
Let me introduce you to the miners…
Renee Blare
Renee is a contemporary Christian writer of romance and suspense. When she’s not busy working as a pharmacist, she loves spending time outdoors. She weaves faith and hope into the fabric of her fiction…where the wild meets the Forgiven. Her first book, To Soar on Eagles Wings is scheduled to be published by Prism Book Group in March of 2015.
Nancy Bolton
Nancy Bolton is a Christian writer who loves the Lord.  A wife of 41 years, she’s a mother of five sons and has two beautiful grandchildren. Her portfolio includes poetry, song lyrics, short stories, non-fiction and fiction works. Women’s fiction is her lastest endeavor, and she writes quite the variety from contemporary and historical romance to fantasy. Above all, she strives to show how God changes human lives in both the huge and tiny ways. Soon to be published in September, The Right Ingredients by Prism Book Group!
 Amryn Cross
Amryn Cross (Amory Cannon) is a writer of Christian romance and suspense as well as young adult. With a blend of dust and shadows, all of her books contain the message of grace and the love of God. Her debut novel, Learning to Die will be released in September 2014 by Desert Breeze Publishing.
Misty Russon
Our fourth miner is Misty, a mother of six and a lover of storms, although she spends more time chasing the two-legged kind than her dream, the tornado. Awed by the Lord’s majesty and power, and how He shows it in this world, she snaps pictures of His handiwork as well as sprinkles pages with His love in the hope of one day seeing her name on a cover. In fact, she’s writing a story on her blog right now. Check it out here
Peggy Trotter
Schoolteacher by day, Christian author by night… and loving every minute of it. Peggy Trotter loves to write about the Lord. From contemporary to historical romance, her characters find themselves in impossible situations relying on a wondrous God. Due to be published by Prism Book Group in April 2015, watch for Year of Jubilee from this miner!
Erin Unger
Illustrating children’s books is one of Erin’s many gifts. She’s also a Christian writer of romance and suspense. Through the pen, she edifies and encourages those turning the pages to keep trekking forward for our Savior Jesus Christ.
Welcome to the Diamond Mine. Let’s start digging!